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Archive for the ‘plastic and its relatives’ Category

Galling

I’m really annoyed by Hy-Vee, Hefty bags, and mostly, myself.  A couple of days ago I was in the express checkout line (12 items or less) at Hy-Vee, buying cherries, grapes, lemons, and blueberries. The checker said “You have $20 worth of produce, and so you are entitled to 20 free boxes of these bags.” She waved her hand at a grocery cart beside her, filled with boxes of Hefty plastic bags.

You know I hate plastic and never take my groceries in plastic bags.  But it’s garden season, and I freeze lots of tomatoes, green beans, etc. So I thought, well, okay, I can use those.

She rang up all my purchases, and then she had to ring up each of the 20 boxes.  Then she had to ring up a coupon for each of the boxes.  Therefore, instead of 12 items, I had 52.  I apologized to the man behind me in line, who was waiting patiently with his quart of milk,

As the checker toiled away at the cash register, I noticed a) that there was a pallet of cartons of plastic bag boxes behind her, and b) that these weren’t plastic bags I could use to freeze vegetables.  They’re that kind of bag you’re supposed to keep produce in, to keep it fresh longer.

I recently read an article that said that these bags don’t keep  produce any fresher than washing it and wrapping it in a dishtowel.

I didn’t have the presence of mind to stop the checker partway through her endeavors (or maybe I was just chicken, yeah, that’s it) to tell her to forget it.  I have absolutely no use for 240 plastic bags (12 per box) that can’t be used in the freezer.

Any ideas what I can do with them?  I thought about giving them to Just Food, the people who coordinate the food pantries in town, as well as the distribution of Plant a Row for the Hungry vegetables.  I might do that, but really, they’re useless! Just more non-biodegradable detritus for the landfill. Why, oh why, did I take them?

plastic bags filled with boxes of Hefty produce bags

Oh yeah, and she put the boxes in plastic bags too. I'm reeling.

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I’m making Eccles cakes today.  I first had these when I worked at a dry cleaner’s in Providence in my late teens.  My boss brought them in from a Portuguese bakery near her house.  I always thought they were Portuguese in spite of the English-sounding name, but they’re not.

A and B love these sweet and flaky little currant pies. A high school friend of B’s came in the house when the Eccles cakes were cooling one afternoon.  B offered him one.  He took it, examined it closely, asked what was in it, and then took a tentative bite. Then he handed it back to B.  “You can have the rest, dude.” Fine, more for us.

After you make the dough, you’re supposed to wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge for a while, like pie dough. I ran out of plastic wrap some time ago and haven’t bought more, and goodness knows I don’t want to waste a plastic bag on something that makes the inside buttery, so I put the dough in a Pyrex container with a lid. Well! That works just fine.

Eccles Cakes

Dough

4 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 sticks butter
1/2 c. cold water

Filling

2 boxes currants (more or less 28 oz. of currants total)
1 t. ground allspice
1/2 c. sugar (Original recipe, wherever it came from, called for 1 cup sugar.  Do what you like.)
water

  1. Combine flour and salt.
  2. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal.
  3. Add water slowly until mixture clings together.
  4. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a roll about 12 inches long.  Chill rolls for 30 minutes.
  5. Mix filling ingredients together, adding only enough water to help the mixture hold together somewhat, about 1/3 cup.
  6. Cut each roll into 12 pieces.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and butter a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.

For each cake:

  1. Roll a piece of dough into a 6 inch round.
  2. Place a heaping spoonful of filling (or two) on the round.
  3. Gather up the dough and pinch together on top securely.
  4. Place on cookie sheet gathered side down. Gently press down with your palm until the filling begins to show through the pastry.
  5. Make 2 cross cuts through the top with a sharp knife.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Eccles cakes.  Yum yum.

Eccles cakes. Yum yum.

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Oh, we had a great dinner tonight, a repeat I had with my friend Egghead Jr. on Sunday.  Fresh pasta with the last batch of cherry tomatoes from the garden, olives, garlic (also from the garden), olive oil, and parmesan.  AND one giant shiitake mushroom from the log I gave A for Christmas last year.  In about March we got 4 mushrooms from it, and then none until now.  I made a salad of arugula, peppers, and cuke, all from our garden or our neighbors.  Bread from Wheatfields, our spectacular local bakery.  Wine. Homemade brownies

I am very happy the meal was largely local.  Is it possible to have a plastic-free meal?

  • The bread comes in a plastic bag. I reuse these over and over.
  • The pasta comes in a non-recyclable, non-reusable plastic box. This is the most annoying item.
  • I put the leftovers in a plastic Glad container.  I have had these for years, but someday they’ll break and be thrown away.
  • I made the brownies yesterday and froze half of them in plastic bags.  The remainder are stored in a Rubbermaid container.

It’s going to get harder as we move into winter.  I froze lots of garden produce in various forms.  All stored in plastic.

I wonder how many plastic bags have ever been made.  Wouldn’t it be good if that number were made public, along with the information that they are all still around and will be for thousands of years?

The mushroom was my favorite part.

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I'm testing out this compostable picnic flatware.  The Ultra Home package came in its own tray made of the same material.  I don't know what the cellophane is made of, and I'd like to know.

I'm testing out this compostable picnic flatware. The Ultra Home package came in its own tray made of the same material. I don't know what the cellophane is made of, and I'd like to know.

I can understand why they serve beer in plastic bottles at the ball park - glass is breakable and can be a more effective weapon - but I was nonetheless shocked.  I didn't realize they were plastic until after I bought them.  On the plus side, they're recyclable plastic, and the open beer cups aren't.

I can understand why they serve beer in plastic bottles at the ball park - glass is breakable and can be a more effective weapon - but I was nonetheless shocked. I didn't realize they were plastic until after I bought them. On the plus side, they're recyclable plastic, and the open beer cups aren't.

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I just learned that searchers looking for Air France flight 447 off the coast of Brazil kept finding what they thought was debris from the plane but was instead plastic garbage.   Read the CNN article.

The 24th International Coastal Cleanup is set for September 19, 2009.  It’s sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy.  Sign up! It doesn’ t matter if you don’t live near an ocean.  Here in Kansas I can go to Clinton Lake, about 5 miles away, and work on shoreline cleanup there so that trash doesn’t go out the spillway and into the Wakarusa River, and ultimately into the ocean.

From the Ocean Conservancy site:

How You Can Help

Marine debris doesn’t just fall from the sky, it falls from human hands. From urban trash to abandoned fishing gear, marine debris is one of the world’s most pervasive marine pollution problems. We can all make a difference.

  • Volunteer for the International Coastal Cleanup every year on the third Saturday in September.
  • Join Ocean Conservancy’s online community to learn more and stay up-to-date on ocean issues.
  • Take your commitment year-round: don’t litter, and pick up litter you see. Keep the ocean clean, and save the life of a marine mammal or bird.
  • Use reusable cloth bags for groceries and shopping instead of disposable plastic bags (including mesh bags for produce).
  • Use reusable beverage containers.
  • Bring reusable or biodegradable food packaging to work or on day trips rather than using styrofoam or plastic containers.

Hawaiian beach strewn with trash, Kamilo, HI. Photo courtesy of Ocean Conservancy.

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Amazing. We haven’t acquired any new plastic in at least four days.

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I’ve been taking pictures of any plastic I’m acquiring each day.  Some gets reused, some has to be thrown away.  We’re on a road trip at the moment, which skews this experiment slightly.  If I were home, I’d be acquiring fewer plastic lids and water bottles, but more packaging.

I’m starting to carry small paper bags with me to the grocery store so I can get mushrooms and other small vegetables without plastic packaging.  Most grocery stores don’t have paper bags in the produce section any more.

At the Dairy Queen somewhere west of Cleveland

At the Dairy Queen somewhere west of Cleveland. I might reuse these items, at least the spoon, if we were at home.

At the Hampton Inn in Lorain, Ohio.  They don't provide glass water glasses any more. We threw these away.

At the Hampton Inn in Lorain, Ohio. They don't provide glass water glasses any more. We threw these away.

McDonald's on the New York State Thruway.  B's coffee came in a paper cup. Thrown away.

McDonald's on the New York State Thruway. B's coffee came in a paper cup. Thrown away.

We ate lunch at Subway.  I didn't think ahead of time to tell them we didn't want the plastic bag.  Also, there was no water spigot on the soda machine, so we had to buy water. I'm still using the water bottle, and the plastic bag is now the car trash bag.

We ate lunch at Subway. I didn't think ahead of time to tell them we didn't want the plastic bag. Also, there was no water spigot on the soda machine, so we had to buy water. I'm still using the water bottle, and the plastic bag is now the car trash bag.

I bought cookies for the trip.  Is cellophane plastic?  Not reusable, at least not as a travel item.

I bought cookies for the trip. Is cellophane plastic? Not reusable, at least not as a travel item.

At the Pawtucket Red Sox ball park, you can't take in your own water bottle. I'll reuse this.

At the Pawtucket Red Sox ball park, you can't take in your own water bottle. I'll reuse this.

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